State #7, New Hampshire, Beyond Pain, Beyond Joy

For New Hampshire, I have only two memories. The first is of steamed mussels at a Portsmouth restaurant where net floaters hung along shake-shingled buildings stilted into the dark water. I flew to Boston to visit my brother over Memorial Day weekend, 2009. Oddly, both times I’ve flown into Boston Logan, I’ve reserved a Ford Speck/Citroën Deux Chevaux/equivalent –and both times the rental car agency has issued me an enormous minivan. Collusion with the local gas station industry? 🙂

NH Steamer Clams

On my second visit to New Hampshire, I came across the Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site. There is something timeless and private about vacation areas in the off season, as attractions don’t open until May in this part of the world. It feels like you are the sole proprietor of empty parking lots and closed kiosks, the only one living after the war.

IMG_3807Augustus Saint-Gaudens (1848-1907) was an influential sculptor, one of those who led the transition from Neo-Classical to Beaux Arts, if you like that sort of thing. His estate in Cornish, New Hampshire, is now a National Historic Site. The booth was closed, and no signs said to keep out, so I gave myself the private off-season tour of the grounds. (A gentleman in a blue windbreaker appeared to be engaged in the same quasi-trespassing; we tacitly avoided each other.)


There was no sound except the gurgle of the river that separated us from Vermont. The day was neither dark nor light; the cloud cover had seemingly fused with the sky so that instead of a sky with a sun, we had an opaque fuzzy lens that diffused illumination without shadow or definition.

The Mystery of the Hereafter

Of the sculptures that popped up in the birch alleys and hedge walls, the most stunning was a reproduction of the Adams Memorial (the original is in Rock Creek Cemetery in Washington, D.C.) Henry Adams commissioned it in 1891 for the grave of his wife, Marian “Clover” Hooper Adams. The figure is not a representation of her, but draws from such influences as the Buddha and murals in the Sistine Chapel; models both male and female were used. Saint-Gaudens named it “The Mystery of the Hereafter … beyond pain, beyond joy.”

The Mystery of the Hereafter

Outside the house, which echoed Saint-Gaudens’ French heritage and education, there is an enormous thornless locust tree. A picture on the black and white edged National Parks placard shows the tree as a 1903 sapling. What pain and joy that tree has witnessed over the past century? I did not get any photos of the house, as my iPhone at that time decided also to transit beyond both pain and joy.

What does it mean to go beyond both pain and joy?


SelfieNot quite an international woman of mystery, but hard at work becoming a regional person of interest. Previously both a Classics Major and an Army Major, she is currently travelling where the road will take her and leaving digital footprints at Upcoming reports may include improving trails in Muir Woods, diving from a liveaboard in the Bahamas, flying military Space-A across the Pacific Ocean, and taking a month long cruise to Antarctica on a refitted Russian research ship. You may also check out some older writing at or email at


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